Kenmore Theatre

2101 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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Showing 26 - 50 of 81 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 12, 2007 at 8:52 am

The locally filmed “The Lords of Flatbush” had its world premiere at the RKO Kenmore in May, 1974. A report, as well as a photo of the marquee, can be found in the May 5th, 1974 issue of The New York Times.

AlAlvarez on December 30, 2006 at 12:15 pm

District Managers and upper management were certainly better paid than the competition but hourly staff was minumum wage and theatres managers were poorly paid and often disrespected. The union options were outrageously corrupt offers and rightfully rejected by everyone as pensions were being blatantly stolen by the union chiefs. (some were eventually arrested, then reinstated)

The projection union was a series of no shows and the stagehand unions were dead overhead as most employees were too old to find the stage, much less change a light bulb.

The concessions workers unions disappeared after collecting dues and never represented anyone.

Even in the leaner years, Cineplex bonuses were paid only to upper level executives (those mainly responsible for the losses) and lower level employees got screwed out of all raises and bonuses. The rotten apples were mostly Americans based in Toronto.

Longislandmovies, you were not there during the butter topping media scandals. There is a book in that alone about how a company can abuse their customers and employees and get away with it in NY.

Cineplex Odeon was a nightmare employer and a price gauging enterprise that made customers pay for bad leases, corrupt unions, and poor employee relations.

Cineplex was indeed odious, but not for Cinema Treasures purposes.


longislandmovies on December 30, 2006 at 6:24 am

One area i have to stick up for C.O. was they were a great employer by industry standards ,managers were paid well over other chains as were the concession people.Twice while i was dm the union vote went down to defeat the only non union chain at the time in ny.

AlAlvarez on December 30, 2006 at 4:22 am

The Alpine, Kingsway and Kings Plaza were among their most profitable theatres. The Fortway and Kenmore barely broke even and the Metropolitan produced huge losses.

Much of the Kenmore income came from the dubious tenants along Church Street, not the box office. I say dubious because the jeweler barely had any jewels and the bridal shop never paid the rent. The fish store in the corner often had as many cats as fish on the premises.

Theatrefan on December 30, 2006 at 3:49 am

Didn’t Cineplex Odeon also come in and take over the Loew’s Metropolitan once Loews Theatres didn’t want to run it anymore?

Cineplex Odeon ran the Fortway, Kenmore, Kingsway, Metropolitan for many years when no other chain would come near these older houses in Brooklyn.

AlAlvarez on December 29, 2006 at 11:28 pm

I think your contempt is misplaced.

The Kenmore would have closed in 1988 if Drabinky had not insisted on taking it over and prolonging it’s life. Say what you wish about the man and his business sense, he kept theatres going way after they were profitable busineses and the Kenmore rarely broke even.
It often cost more to heat and cool this place than the total box office takings could pay for.

RKO was selling everything. United Artists was not taking over any old houses and Loews and City Cinemas wanted nothing to do with Brooklyn.

Cineplex Odeon was a bad employer, landlord, and an overly agressive operator in many ways, but it was a friend of preservation.

The Kenmore lasted as long as it did thanks to gory violent movies and Drabinky’s obsession with market share. Remember, it was Loews who shut it down.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 29, 2006 at 8:04 am

Small wonder that it was known as Cineplex Odious within the industry.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 29, 2006 at 7:58 am

Sometimes, when I look back at history, I think that Cineplex Odeon operation = death for the theatre when Cineplex leaves.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 22, 2006 at 5:19 am

The Kenmore was described as “Amazing in its splendor” in this pre-opening ad from 1928. The movie’s star, Rudolph Schildkraut, was then far more famous than his actor-son, Joseph:

frankie on July 27, 2006 at 8:37 am

I lived in the neighborhood from ‘68 to '76, when all those movie theaters were open. I took my 2 kid sisters to see “Airport” at the Kenmore in '70. Heart-breaking to see all the violence & destruction. Last thing I saw there was Lily in “Incredible Shrinking Woman.”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 3, 2006 at 4:57 am

According to a report in The New York Times, the Kenmore first opened as a Cineplex Odeon four-screener on May 20, 1988, with a total seating capacity of 2,420. The theatre had closed in 1987 for the sub-division, which retained some of Eugene DeRosa’s original Adam-style decor, including the 60-foot wide dome of the auditorium ceiling. The NYT also reported that the Kenmore opened in 1928 with 3,025 seats, and dropped vaudeville from its programs in 1932.

AlAlvarez on February 28, 2006 at 12:41 am

Sorry for the delay on this, br. When I left NY, little work had been done that could damage the Kenmore interior aside from that associated with the thankfully rather cheap quading efforts. The chandelier was intact and most auditorium features were worn but otherwise untouched. The lobby mirror wall was intact and the balcony level trimings were still impressive aside from the occassional bullet hole. Aside from some the corridor dry wall coverings (a Cineplex Odeon norm here and at the Met) which allowed elements behind to remain, the place was quite delicately refurbished. The upstairs lobby ceilings were worn though beautifully intricate but the bathrooms were all beat to death. A massive (and scary) basement and backstage area remained with some dressing rooms. The coal furnace was still being fed by human hands and serviced by a coal shoot from the sidewalk.

I am not sure what damage has been done since, but I can assure you Cineplex Odeon did little harm. For all their faux marble crimes in Manhattan, their Brooklyn conversions were generally reseating and cleaning if only for cost reasons.

BobFurmanek on February 23, 2006 at 9:28 am

To promote his new film “The Ladies Man,” Jerry Lewis appeared on stage at this theater on July 13, 1961.

Bway on October 20, 2005 at 6:09 am

Here’s a photo of the Kenmore in the 50’s…Marilyn Monroe on the Marquee:

uncleal923 on October 12, 2005 at 5:12 pm

Other than the marquis, is there any sign of the theater? I mean is there anything in that Modell’s that hints there was a movie house there?

RobertR on October 12, 2005 at 2:40 pm

“Oceans 11” played here on the RKO neighborhood run in 1960.
View link

br91975 on July 8, 2005 at 2:36 pm

Thank you from me as well, Warren, for that photograph. I know you probably won’t respond to this compliment, but I’m sure I don’t speak alone in stating you’re one of the most valued contributors to this site.

From those who attended the Kenmore in the ‘80s (such as yourself, Al) and the '90s, how many of its original architectural elements remained, post-multiplexing and after becoming a Cineplex Odeon property and do any still exist in its current incarnation as a Modell’s Sporting Goods store? I thought I read it had been, at best, mostly gutted, but would be grateful for some confirmation.

RobertR on July 8, 2005 at 1:47 pm

Hard to believe “Hamlet” once played here.
View link

AlAlvarez on July 8, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Thanks Warren.

Your photo has thrown me into time travel mode like no sci-fi movie ever could. Having “dealt” with Kenmore for many years in the nasty eighties I knew it had a grand past but one single image and the eighties are now gone. This one familiar, yet foreign, image means all the world to me. Thank you and Cinema Treasures for bringing this bullet holed crackhouse back to life. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

jays on July 8, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Thanks Warren for that photo in my lifetime i’ve never experienced this theatre as a single screen.

jays on July 8, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Thanks Warren for that photo in my lifetime i’ve never experienced this theatre as a single screen.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 7, 2005 at 4:21 am

Here is an image of the Kenmore’s original auditorium and some of its famous side wall murals:

uncleal923 on June 20, 2005 at 5:50 pm

That was a nice theater, I recall sitting in the balcony with kids from my school and watching ‘Finian’s Rainbow’. I guess I should be thankful I left Brooklyn in the middle 70s insofar as movie houses. I would not want to see those things multiplexed.

Theaterat on June 18, 2005 at 8:18 am

Gustavelifting… The Kenmore was a very nice theater until the mid 70s. I only went there a half dozen times and remember it somewhat well. Glad I never went there after it was `plexed. I did not need to risk my life to see a movie!

uncleal923 on June 16, 2005 at 4:36 pm

It was a single screen theater at first, which was great. It was multiplexed, which I am glad I did not see. Then finally, the worst, it became a Modells Sporting Goods Store. The Kenmore was great.